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very high phosphates, not sure what to do....

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  • very high phosphates, not sure what to do....

    1. Gross water volume of your complete system (incl. sump etc.) - US gallons / UK gallons / liter

    2. Net water volume (incl. sump etc.) - US gallons / UK gallons / liter

    3. Are you using a CaCO2 reactor or other technique

    4. Are you using a PO4 reactor (how long, how long ago, etc.)

    5. Are you using Ozone

    6. Are you using UV

    7. What skimmer are you using (type, rated water volume)
    Bubbleking mini 160
    8. What are your actual PO4 and NO3 levels
    Nitrate ~ 3, PO4 .5 (and rising)

    9. What are your actual Ca, Alk and Mg levels
    450, 7.8, 1380

    10. What filtration method do you use (refugium, DSB, Miracle Mud, etc.)
    Zeostones, filter sock (changed every 2 days), GAC

    11. Type of light (Watt, color temp, how old, etc.)
    2x Radion xr30 G6

    12. What corals do you keep
    LPS/Softies and 1 SPS to gauge when I'm stable enough to add more. Tank is 5 months old

    13. Tissue color (light or dark)

    14. How long has the tank been running
    5 months ~ Phosphates were stable at .03-.05 for 4 weeks before adding livestock/coral.

    15. Why do you want to use the ZEOvit system
    To eventually keep SPS corals and spend time with the system for perfection

    16. Any supplemental dosing (type, amount, why, etc.)
    Zeobak 4x drops 3x a week, Bio-mate - 4x drops daily, Zeolife - 9ml daily, Sponge Power - 3x drops every other day, Zeozyme once weekly, Coral snow plus -3ml daily (says it removes phosphates), Iodine 3 drops every other day.

    I have the whole zeovit kit and have stopped dosing all amino acids, pohls, coral booster, vitalizer etc...for the past 2 weeks
    17. Live rock (how much, how old, etc.)
    80lbs dry rock 5 months old

    18. Any present problems

    19. Problem description (tissue loss tips, tissue loss base, diatom bloom, algae, etc.)

    20. What test kit do you use (how old, recently switched, etc.)
    Hanna ULR

    21. Present dosing, amounts and intervals (ZEOvit, ZEObak, ZEOfood, ZEOstart, ZEOspur2, etc.)
    See above

    22. Other water parameters and water stability (salinity, temp, etc.)
    1.025, 81F

    23. Which salt brand do you use
    Tropic Marin Syn-Biotic

    Phosphates keep rising no matter what I do. I only dose zeobak, biomate, coral snow plus, zeolife, zeozyme for the past 2 weeks to try to remove phosphates. My levels started at .32 at which point I tried to aggressively reduce them without any change. Since attempting to lower them they have increased in 4 days from .32 to .5. I perform 2x 25% water change every week, increase biomate/bak/snow dosage to daily. I increased flow through my zeostones. I used about .9l with flow around 60gph. In the past 3 days I have increase flow to closer to 120gph. Stones changed out every 4 weeks.

    I'm really at a loss of why my phosphates keep increasing despite water changes and only dosing phosphate removing products. To be honest, it seems like a lot of snake oil considering it only goes up. I'm starting to wonder if something in one of the products is increasing Po4....I tested my RODI/Source water which have read 0 PO4. Zeo stones shook daily, carbon bag shook, socks changed every other day, 2x 25% water change a week, feed fish 2x a day. Have about 11 fish. Largest beeing 5" Gem tang/white tail tang. I feed LRS frozen 1x a day about a cube worth, and a thumb pinch of various mixed dry pellet in the evening.

    I test my PO4 daily but despite water changes and using the zeovit po4 reducing products it just keeps rising. Before adding corals/fish to the tank my level was .03 stable for a month. Now it goes up no matter what. What I don't understand is how I can spend hundreds of dollars on a low nutrient reduction system with 0 effect but tossing in a cheap light and a lump of chaeto make the nutrients plummet within a couple days.

    This is my 2nd tank. First one was a 200g Triton based system. I understand general care but am obviously missing some big key issue here. Any help much appreciated! Very frustrating.

  • #2
    I would just add a small ferric oxide reactor on a trickle speed and be done with it.

    I have noticed that TM salt has phosphate in the mix. Try testing some new mix up water and see foryurself.

    The Zeolite is meant for Amminia and not phosphate.

    Those fish in your tank and you feeding them is the main issue.

    The zeozym is more of a coral food. I don't know what you would like to break down chemical wise unless Thomas Phol would like to chime in


    • #3
      Welcome pescatarianman

      There seems to be no problem with the basal dose of Zeo, the amount and flow of zeolite material (I hope they are the correct recommended amount and flow level).

      1. Phosphate stabilized at 0.03-.05 for 4 weeks prior to addition of livestock/corals.
      2. There are about 11 fish, hold various mixed dry pellets with your thumb at night.
      3. dry rock 5 months old

      I think your tank biology is still young, especially with dry rock, which lengthens the process. Nutrient levels were good for the first 4 weeks, but after that the nutrition went up, which was probably at the first zeolite change (quantity/flow), however, the main nutrient came from the input (fish) too fast/too much, which prolonged this Reduce the nutritional process.Of course your feeding (input) also matters,「The fish must be fed very carefully at this stage as the biology is not very stable at this stage」

      1. The skimmer model you are using, which I think should be good enough for the job, how does it work?

      2 .In the process of increasing nutrition, whether to change/add other equipment

      3.The biological filter material contains sand, etc. Has it been replaced, ever?

      Nitrate level 5, which seems a little unusual, I also hope you do make sure the amount and flow of zeolite material is correct, just wanted to clarify that as correct
      Last edited by jacky; 06-30-2022, 07:14 PM.


      • #4

        had a read and have a few ideas.

        1- TM syn biotic- bacteria salt.
        maybe switch to the reef salt so there’s no conflict

        2- dry rock. It’s not ur first reef, but some rocks can leach phosphates for months and months
        what Rick did you use.
        was it acidic washed
        3- also I do think feeding and frozen food.
        it me it’s seem a lot of food and I always rinse the frozen food a couple time in tank water to remove the height phosphates it has. ( 3-4 cubes lasted me about 5 days 3 tangs, 2 wrasses, clowns anthias and cromes pellets also) i only feed once a day at night.

        personally I would just to the week 10-15 water change and let the tank settle in and mature.
        keeping to the basics


        • #5
          Welcome to !

          The PO4 level in your system is indeed unusual high however I have a couple of additional questions also:
          1. Which kind of carbon do you use and have you already tested it for PO4 by soaking some fresh carbon in some RO water for a couple of hours testing the clear water for PO4 ?
          2. Where all the rocks in the system since the start while the PO4 level was on a much lower level, have you run PO4 absorbers before ?
          3. When exactly have you started ZeoVit on this system, at the beginning for the cycle or recently ?
          4. To get a better idea about your system a picture of your sump and the display system would be helpful.
          5. I am missing ZeoStart in your dosing routine, do you use it ?
          6. How much ZeoVit material do you have in your reactor and what is the flow. You can measure the flow by collecting the water of the reactor outlet for 30 seconds with a smaller container, than multiply the volume by 120 and you will get the exact output per hour.


          • #6
            Thank you everyone, I am surprised by how helpful everyone is on here. It is nice to see a good community.

            I will try to address everything asked in a simple way.

            1. Ferric Oxide I considered, but no room in sump

            2. I am switching to TM Pro Reef salt sine there is bacteria/prebiotics in the "syn-biotic" mix I use

            3, I will reduce feeding and stop zeozyme for now. I didn't know it was a coral food.

            4. dry rock was from Algaebarn .com. I rinsed it and put it in RODI water for a week before using.

            5. The skimmer is a bubble king, but it is hard to get it to wet skim as water starts pouring out of the sides when the water level gets too high in the skimmer chamber. It takes 10~ days to mostly fill

            6. Sand was a mix of dry and live sand. I rinsed for 6 hours with my hands with hose water until all the silt was gone. It then sat out for a week before being added to the tank. 1.5" sand bed.

            7. Carbon is zeovit carbon. I soak it in rodi for 30 minutes until it runs clear.

            8. Zeovit was started at the very beginning. I let the tank run for about 4 months before adding any livestock or coral. During this time I dosed bak, food, start, sponge power with large initial doses.

            9. ZeoStart is dosed at .6ml daily

            10. .9 liters zeovit. I measured my flow when I started the tank at 60GPH. After seeing high phosphate I increased flow to 120GPH in the past week. What effect does increasing or decreasing the reactor flow have on the system? Pump for Zeostones is a Sicce 0.5 rated at 185GPH. I twisted the +- to be halfway open.

            11. Nitrate has been consistently between 3-5 using NYOS test.

            Actions I am taking based upon reading responses so far above - Change salt to TM Pro, Reduce frozen feeding, Stop Zeozyme,

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            • #7
              Good Morning,

              Nice scape,

              I see you have the NEW Bubble king (new pump)
              I dont see much wrong with ur skimmate,

              -are you adjusting the water hight with the air filter tube ??
              -water height in the chamber

              There was a very good forum on r2r or Rc helping people dial in there skimmers,
              From memory, they like the Air filter tube fully open and adjust water height slowly in the skimmer chamber,
              -There might be some info on pump speed, for this new pump, or maybe its similar to the old RD3 ??

              I run the older AC pump, DC180, and i notice filter socks (4) reduces skimmate, when they need changing.....its does pull lots more skimate.
              Also run the skimmer deeper in the water what there manual suggests.

              I was unaware that zeozym was a food, maybe someone can jump in here

              - reef pics little hard to see, but if there is any aglae on the rocks, tooth brush scrub is good to help things along,
              Photo period ?? may reduce ??


              • #8
                Originally posted by NZ-Nick View Post

                I was unaware that zeozym was a food, maybe someone can jump in here

                Photo period ?? may reduce ??
                There are a lot of smart people out there that don't recommend enzymes. The logic is something needs to be broken down but nobody making these products have explained what they are interest using the enzymes for.

                I've read somewhere that corals can eat enzymes whether they are really good for the coral or not is another conversation.


                • #9
                  Thank you for the pictures and the additional details. Your sump looks very clean so I do not see any problem with it. The combination of live sand and ZeoVit has caused issues for many in the past (constant algae / cyanos) just something to keep in mind if those kind of problems do exist.

                  Would recommend you to continue dosing as follows at the momen:

                  ZeoBac – 3 drops every other day for the next 2 weeks
                  ZeoStart – 0.35 ml 2 x daily split to once in the morning / once in the evening
                  BioMate – 7 drops every other day
                  SpongePower – 3 drops every other day
                  CoralSnow Plus – 3 ml every other day

                  Skip ZeoZym, ZeoLive and Iodine at the moment.

                  Do a weekly water change of 0 – 15 % using the new salt. The Biotic salts do contain components which nourish bacteria so they should not be used in conjunction with the system. While each water change vacuum the sand to remove sediments from the deeper layers.

                  As Nick said the skimmer should be adjusted, one cup skimate within 10 days is really not much and should be more with the current bioload. Also clean the skimmer daily or every other day to export as much as possible once it is running correct.

                  Adjust your ZeoVit reactor to 90 – 100 US gallons per hour continuous flow by measuring it. The recommended settings on the pumps are often not correct. Replace the material every 6 weeks. After each ZeoVit exchange dose ZeoBac daily for 10 days, otherwise 2 x weekly.

                  I can not say anything to the rocks you have used if they leach PO4 or not as I never hear about them but I would try to put a piece of it in some tank water soak it for a couple of hours doing a PO4 test. If the test is higher than in the tank the rocks might leach PO4.

                  ZeoZym is not a coral food, it does improve the biology and as Bugger said it does split harmful substances. Therefore it was created and it can be used additional once per week usually if there are not direct problem with it.

                  Still not sure about PO4 absorber, have you used one which was removed completely before the PO4 level has started to climb ?



                  • #10
                    Thank you everyone,

                    I will be swapping out the skimmer based on the comments. Water height in my sump does not allow for good skimming and I find the bubble king will turn itself off after 5 seconds or so if I raise the skimmer height - probably due to small sump size. Will also incorporate dosing instructions from G.Alexander. I've stopped using the biotic salt and will stick with TM Pro Reef.

                    Will see how these changes go for the next 4~ weeks and report back. Appreciate all the help and suggestions. Fantastic community. Take care.


                    • #11
                      Two things.

                      The air going into the nozzle seems to get blocked up from what people have said on the new model.
                      - worth having a check

                      40 mm tube the length of ur chamber, if you can get it cut along the length you can increase and adjust you sump chamber volume (temp fix and adjustment)